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<title>FSFE's submission to the UK Open Standards Proposal 2014</title>
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<p id="category"><a href="http://www.fsfe.org/work.html">Our Work</a> /
<a href="/activities/os/os.html">Overview of Open Standards</a>
<h1>Submission to UK Open Standards Proposal 2014</h1>
This is FSFE's submission to the <a href="http://standards.data.gov.uk/proposal/sharing-collaborating-government-documents">UK Open
Standards Proposal</a>, held by the Standards Hub in Cabinet Office,
submitted on 28th January 2014.
<a href="http://fsfe.org">Free Software Foundation Europe</a> has long
advocated the use of Open Standards in government. We applaud this
proposal by the UK government.
Most governments are suffering the effects of lock-in in their IT
infrastructure: high costs, dependence on a single ultimate supplier,
no strategic freedom. This all but eliminates meaningful competition
among suppliers, and stifles technological progress. In addition,
these governments often end up imposing on the citizens they serve
(and on other organisations they cooperate with) an obligation to
acquire the same non-free programs that the government uses.
In contrast, the UK government stands out not just for its
determination to break free and make real competition among suppliers
possible, but also for having an integrated strategy for doing so. The
present proposal is a central building block of this strategy, along
with a clear and strong <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/open-standards-principles/open-standards-principles#open-standard---definition"
>definition of Open Standards</a>, the recently announced <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-draws-the-line-on-bloated-and-wasteful-it-contracts"
>red lines</a> for IT contracts, and other elements.
We applaud the UK Government's approach of focusing on standards
rather than products, and relying on a strong definition of Open
Standards to ensure that there will be significant competition among
suppliers for any software products that the government may wish to
An important feature of the present proposal is that it relies on a
thorough and comprehensive <a href="https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/01/29/government-documents-understanding-what-users-need/"
>study of the actual user needs</a>. This greatly increases the chances
that the proposal can be successfully implemented, and that any new tools
deployed will be well matched to the requirements of their users.
The proposed standards (HTML (4.01, 5 or higher); TXT; CSV; ODF (1.1
or higher)) each address a different technical need. The UK Government
is correct in focusing on a single Open Standard for each category and
Competition takes place on top of standards, not between them.
Especially with regards to documents produced in office suites,
concentrating on a single Open Standard will ensure that all suppliers
can compete on an equal basis. In the mid to long term, the demand
created by the UK government, and any others following in its
footsteps, is bound to lead to significant improvements in the way
office suites work - an area where progress has been all but absent
for about a decade.
We agree with Francis Maude's assessment, from a <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/sprint-14-speech-by-francis-maude"
>speech</a> delivered on January 29 this year, that "the adoption of open
standards in government threatens the power of lock-in to proprietary
vendors yet it will give departments the power to choose what is right
for them and the citizens who use their services."
In closing, we reiterate our support for the UK Government's proposed
approach. Ultimately, any strategy is only as good as its
implementation. We would thus like to express our hope that the
government will follow through on implementing this approach across
all of its branches. FSFE remains available to support this effort.
<h2>For further information about FSFE's work on Open Standards:</h2>
<li><a href="http://fsfe.org/activities/os/def.en.html">FSFE`s definition of Open Standards</a></li>
<li><a href="http://fsfe.org/activities/os/os.en.html">Overview of FSFE`s work on Open Standards</a></li>
<li><a href="http://fsfe.org/activities/os/ps.en.html">Analysis on balance: Standardisation and Patents</a></li>
<li><a href="http://fsfe.org/activities/os/bsa-letter-analysis.en.html">Defending Open Standards: FSFE refutes BSA's false claims to European Commission</a></li>
<li><a href="http://fsfe.org/activities/policy/igf/sovsoft.en.html">Open Standards, Free Software, and the Internet</a></li>
<timestamp>$Date: 2012-04-21 17:12:14 +0200 (Sat, 21 Apr 2012) $ $Author: samtuke $</timestamp>
<tag content="Open Standards">OpenStandards</tag>
<tag content="United Kingdom">UnitedKingdom</tag>
<tag content="Public Administration">PublicAdministration</tag>
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